Every day at Deerhorn, we talk about “living the Creed.” Kids hear us discussing what it means to “play every game on the level,” to “be a booster, rather than a knocker,” and to “be kind because manliness requires kindness.” When kids have to come to the office to discuss a disagreement they had with another camper, the focus is always on whether or not their actions followed the Creed. As parents, one of our greatest hopes for our children is that they grow up to be kind, considerate human beings. But here’s the thing…I have thought about this a lot in recent months, as it pertains to my own actions as a parent. I can talk the talk until I’m blue in the face about the importance of being kind…but am I walking the walk? Am I constantly leading by example of what it means to be kind? Do my kids see me be kind to the stranger that cuts me off in traffic? Are they seeing me be kind to the woman that drives me a little bit crazy? Do my actions speak as loudly as my words?
I’d love to say that I do, all the time, every day, but I know it’s not true. What I can say is that I am a work in progress as a parent, learning more every day about what it means to “parent with kindness.” And I know that one of the biggest threats to my parenting with kindness is lack of sleep. We recently adopted a new puppy…
..and having a new puppy is like having a baby all over again. And when you have your second, or your third baby (or puppy), enough time has passed that you have developed amnesia about how hard those first few months are…the sleepless nights, the crying, (the peeing on the floor, the favorite shoe all chewed up.) You forget. And so you say “Let’s do it again!” Not pictured in the above picture are two parents, who are exhausted because they were up half the night with a night-owl puppy who thought it was time to play. It has now been two weeks with Miss Katniss, and our kids are over the moon. Patrick and I are still exhausted. And I know that when I get exhausted, I have to be more careful in how I respond to people…friends, strangers, our kids, and Patrick.
Being kind isn’t always easy. It takes effort, intention, and lots of introspection about our words and actions and how they impact others. It’s easy to be kind when we’re well-rested and in a good mood. It’s easy to be kind to people we care about, but what about to strangers or with people with whom we disagree?
We all have struggles as parents. We are human and have limitations and are growing up just as much as our kids are along the way. The best we can do is set that intention to be kind to those around us, and to apologize for those times when our kindness slips just a little. What a gift for our kids to hear me say I am sorry for something I said, to know that mom and dad aren’t perfect, that we make mistakes, but that no matter what, we always love them.